- A. V. Sheshgiri Rao’s Raja Nanna Raja (Kannada movie)
- P. H. Vishwanath’s Panchamaveda (Kannada movie)
- Somadeva’s Vetala Panchavimshati (Sanskrit literature)
- David Benioff and D. W. Weiss’ Game of Thrones (English TV series)
Joy everywhere. The entire kingdom of Manjaripura was decorated with flowers and colors. People shared sweets with everyone. Songs and dances were to be seen on the streets. Shop owners distributed many food items to the poor for free. Every family in the kingdom was given a silver coin. The cheering of the people filled the skies as it was the day of birth of the prince Chandrasena.
The queen Amala delivered a baby boy at the Parvathi temple. The king Mahabahu and the queen had tried for a child for almost seven years but had failed. Chandrasena was a god gift to them. Mahabahu decided to make Chandrasena the best king the world had ever seen.
When Chandrasena was four the king decided to send him to gurukula. It was a tradition that when a prince attains the age of four he would be sent to a hermitage to learn from a rishi (sage) the knowledge of life (morals, ethics, and values), love, administration, communication skills, politics, warfare, mental cool, decision-making skills, meditation, yoga, and so on. The prince would return to his kingdom when his guru thinks he is matured enough, generally at the age of twenty. Unwillingly, the king and the queen send their little son for education under the tutelage of guru Raghuveera.
Raghuveera was a wise and a knowledgeable guru. He had an ashram in the midst of a large forest of Manjaripura. A few sages including their students lived there peacefully teaching, learning, and meditating. The ashram had a few huts surrounded by a big garden consisting of flowers and fruits. In the ashram, the day started at the sunrise and ended at the sunset. Morning and afternoon, the sages taught all the students several lessons predominantly “how to be happy and do good” or in other words how to live. The deer, rabbits, squirrels, dogs, and cows were free to roam around anywhere near the ashram and they all lived with the people feeling loved. The dogs safeguarded the place from wolves and if needed the advanced students used their bows and arrows to keep dangerous animals outside the boundary of the ashram.
The sages also did yajnas (ritual offering through fire) for the betterment of the world. Sometimes they went into deep trance to imagine, visualize, and experience the vastness and greatness of love, life, and the universe. The students had to study hard from the scriptures, practice learned skills on warfare, discuss on several topics, etc. They also had to work for the ashram that included cleaning the ashram premises, getting wood from the forest, collecting flowers and fruits from the garden, milking cows, and feeding all animals.
In such a humble environment, Chandrasena grew up to become a godly person. He was extremely intelligent. His simplicity, humbleness, intelligence, hard work, and love for people had made him the favorite student of Raghuveera. Chandrasena worked hard, studied well, practiced even at late nights when everyone was asleep and also in the early morning before anyone woke up. When he had to pluck flowers or fruits, cut tree branches for the wood, eat vegetarian food, he felt sad that he had to hurt trees and plants. Hence, he always prayed for forgiveness. Such was the innocence and humility of Chandrasena. He was an expert shooter of arrows and a first class sword fighter. But, during the practice he always did poorly because he did not want his friends to lag behind.
Once, when one of the students stole some food items from the kitchen, Raghuveera and a few other sages got angry. They asked in front of everyone as to who stole the food item. It was an embarrassing student for any student who would admit the mistake and the respect for him would be reduced to ashes. At that situation, to save the real culprit from getting embarrassed, Chandrasena himself came forward saying that it was done by him. Later the student who really stole the food changed completely and privately revealed to the sages everything. Raghuveera and his wife Urmila knew the greatness of Chandrasena and cared for him more than their own son. Such was the personality of Chandrasena.
Years passed and Chandrasena developed into a handsome youth. He became well-versed in the art of warfare, administration, loving nature, loving people, and so on. Chandrasena knew the scriptures, could answer any question with utmost brilliance and humbleness, was matured enough to live his life independently and more than everything he was completely ready to rule a kingdom being a king. This meant it was time for him to leave his ashram. The pain felt by Raghuveera and Urmila by the thought of Chandrasena leaving the ashram was much more compared to the pain felt by the king Mahabahu and queen Amala when he left the palace as a kid. Chandrasena was very sad to leave his godly teachers and non-biological parents. But, after persuasion by his teacher mother Urmila he yielded and left the ashram and returned to his kingdom.
The return of the prince to Manjaripura was celebrated with great joy. The young prince was seen sitting on his chariot entering the gates of Manjaripura. Thousands of people had gathered everywhere on the sides of the streets, terraces of the houses, and even the top of the trees and showered flowers on him. He was grateful for their love and affection. He greeted them bowing to their souls and decided to dedicate his life for their well-being. The cheering of the people and the beats of the drums filled the skies. The return of the prince Chandrasena began a new era in the peaceful kingdom of Manjaripura.
Chandrasena entered the palace and was greeted by thousands of soldiers, hundreds of ministers, and a few advisers. The king Mahabahu controlled his emotions but the queen Amala could not. Chandrasena touched the feet of his parents to get their blessings. The king and the queen hugged him tightly and Chandrasena cried like a baby. The parents got their son and the kingdom got their prince. From that day, Manjaripura became more lively than ever before.
For approximately an year, Chandrasena got involved in the administration of the kingdom. He took decisions about the security of the kingdom’s borders, the treasures, accountability, and devised plans for the welfare of his citizens. Once when he was deeply immersed in the sea of thinking he realized that instead of sitting in the palace and analyzing people’s problems it is better to live or be with them in disguise to understand their lives. So, disguising himself as an ordinary soldier he roamed in his land of Manjaripura telling people that he was a newly appointed soldier to curb theft in the kingdom.
Interactions with people helped Chandrasena know their problems better. Misuse of power by the soldiers, robbery while crossing forests, inequality based on religions and castes and money, very few privileges and rights for women, black-magic, poverty, and superstitions were some of the most common problems in his society. The prince attacked these problems slowly one by one by rolling out revolutionary measures.
It was a full moon evening. The king and the queen sitting on their chairs by the window side and drinking alcohol, decided that it is time for their son to get married. They rolled out a list of the most beautiful and talented princesses to be selected from. That night Chandrasena was not able to sleep properly. A spine-chilling dream caught up his nerves and he saw himself drowning in a sea of blood. He woke up screaming and gasping for breath. He attempted to understand the dream in vain trying to correlate with the incidents that had already taken place or anticipating the events that might possibly happen in future. Realizing that it is close to sunrise and unable to sleep the prince gets ready and rides his horse to roam around his land for freshness.
The entire kingdom of Manjaripura was sleeping. Dead silence everywhere. It was dark but not complete. The prince rode through the rough streets of the kingdom pondering over his mysterious dream. Though it was dark there was enough light to see the streets and buildings vaguely. After a certain while he saw someone moving on top of the Ananthagiri hill situated nearby. Suspecting a theft of jewelries from the Shiva temple on top of the hill the prince quickly climbed the steps of the hill and reached the temple. When he searched the temple he could see no one. A bit more careful look and the prince saw a person at the backyard of the temple.
Chandrasena went near to recognize the person, hiding. He could not believe his eyes. The prince got stunned for a few minutes before he could realize himself. He was seeing the most beautiful girl he had ever seen in his life. The gorgeous girl was plucking daisies, jasmines, and roses in the garden. A deer calf, a white rabbit, and two birds followed her wherever she went. She collected the flowers in a bag and kept it near the temple to be later used by the priest to decorate the idols of the gods. The sweet-smelling and stunningly-beautiful girl climbed down the steps in a nearby well and got water in a jug and watered the plants. For her, plants, animals, and babies were all the same. She sprinkled water drops on the plants the leaves and partially-bloomed flowers and asked them if they were all fine and faced any difficulties. With an open heart she shared with them everything she had experienced the previous day for almost an hour. She hugged and kissed them wishing them all happiness for the new day and left the temple.
Blown away by the beauty, simplicity, humbleness, down-to-earth nature, and helping characters of the mysterious lady, he decided that if he ever gets married it would be with this wonder woman. He followed her climbing down the steps of the temple. His heart beating fast and hard, he gathered all the courage to talk to her and said “hello”. The beautiful lady turned back with a smile on her face, uttered “hmmm” (meaning “yes”), and waited for Chandrasena to continue the conversation. He introduced himself as one of the newly appointed undercover soldiers responsible to identify thefts in the kingdom and asked her name, what was she doing there, where she was going to, and what she does for a living. The girl replied that her name was Devyani. She had come to pluck flowers to be decorated for the idols of the gods, was leaving to her house, and she was a worker at the temple. Chandrasena asked Devyani to be careful and let him know if she faced any problem. She thanked him and returned home.
Chandrasena could not stop thinking of Devyani and fell in love with her. Her eyes, her nose, her body, her smile, her sweet words, and her character had already made an indelible wound in his heart. For the first time, he found a reason to live his life. After completing his administrative work and dinner, he slept very early to spend more time in sleep to meet Devyani in his dreams.
The next morning, Chandrasena woke up early to see and talk to Devyani and headed to the temple. He met Devyani and told her that it is not good for her to come alone to the temple in the early morning when almost everyone is asleep and that he would accompany her every day to make sure that she is safe. They talked a lot everyday on every single topic under the sun and became close friends. Chandrasena also helped Devyani in distributing food to poor students at the temple. In a couple of months they fell in love with each other.
The love saga of Chandrasena and Devyani had no bounds. He took her on his horse to nearby forests, mountains, rivers, and villages. Their favorite meeting place was a secret cave in a nearby forest called Nisha. They talked about goodness, love, life, gods, universe, administration, education, and solutions to the problems of the society. Devyani’s goal was to help as many poor students as possible and help people in every way she could. Chandrasena was moved by her character and vowed to join her in her divine work whenever he could. Their love was more than human. With their emotions and thoughts amalgamating into one, they lived as if they were already married.
Misfortune started creeping in the lives of the young lovers. One of the neighbors of Devyani, named Rishya, who had a strong liking on her and wanted to marry her complained to the king about Devyani’s secretive love with a soldier from the palace. Devyani’s grandmother Mandakini was a maid to the queen and she was summoned by the king. The king Mahabahu asked Mandakini if she was aware of Devyani’s love and if not, to take necessary steps to solve the problem and let him know if she needed any help. Traumatized Mandakini returns home and beats Devyani very badly. Devyani asked her grandmother the reason for beating her and gets to know that it is all because of her love. Then Devyani informs her grandmother and parents that the person she loves is extremely good-natured and his name is Chandrasena, an undercover soldier from the palace.
Mandakini faints hearing the name of the prince. Devyani and her parents sprinkle water on Mandakini’s face and Mandakini regains consciousness. She begs Devyani to forget him and never meet or talk to him. When Devyani asks for a reason, Mandakini reveals that there are two important reasons and the latter is more significant than the former: (1) Chandrasena is the prince of the kingdom of Manjaripura. (2) Chandrasena is Devyani’s younger brother. These two facts came as a shock to innocent Devyani but she refused to believe the latter news. Then Mandakini slowly unfolded a story known not to anyone.
Devyani’s father Sanjaya had two wives: Chaaru and Nandini. Chaaru’s daughter was Devyani. When Devyani was almost two years old, Nandini was pregnant. At the same time the queen Amala was also pregnant. The queen wished to visit the Parvathi temple. Mandakini accompanied her to the temple. Suddenly the queen developed labor pain and in a relatively small store room of the temple she delivered a baby boy and became unconscious. Knowing that a prince grows to become a king and her grandson grows to become an ordinary person, Mandakini thought of a master plan. She sent a letter to her son at her home through one of the maids. Devyani’s father Sanjaya got to know the intensity of the news. He wrapped up his real son, who was born to Nandini a few hours before, in a nice cloth, placed him along with a few medicines and brought the trunk to the room where Mandakini was eagerly waiting. None of the maids were allowed to enter the store room. Mandakini slowly exchanged her grandson in the trunk with the newly born prince with the desire to see her grandson become a king one day. The trunk was safely transferred back to her house. Thus, Sanjaya’s son and Devyani’s younger step-brother became the prince Chandrasena.
Devyani was in a shock. Confusions and despair had blinded her logic and she was not able to think properly. She slept with a heavy heart weeping all night. The next day she met Chandrasena at their favorite meeting place, a cave in the Nisha forest, against the orders of her parents and grandmother. She revealed every bit of information she had learned the previous day that had made her life miserable. The cool-minded prince thought for a while and hugging her tightly told her that there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Chandrasena confessed that he did not reveal his identify as a prince because if he did she would have stayed away from him and he would never have gotten close to her. And regarding the brother and sister relation, he said that the major difference in [being in love and not being brother and sister] and [being in love and being brother and sister] is in one thought called belief. He urged her to believe in the mind-relationship called love more than the blood-relationship and that nothing in the world can separate their love. Listening to his words, Devyani filled with tears of joy hugged and kissed him and said that she was totally ready to live and die with him whatever might happen. Thus the lovers got united again against all odds.
The prince informed Devyani to tell her parents and grandmother not to reveal the secret to anyone because by any chance if the king gets to know the secret he would burn their entire family to ashes. Chandrasena then left to the palace, met the king and revealed to him that he is that soldier who is in love with Devyani and that he would like to marry her. Furious king Mahabahu threatened the prince that if he sees her again their entire family would be banished from the kingdom and the prince would have to face dire consequences. Then the king ordered the prince not to leave the palace for six more months. Chandrasena had thought that his father would agree for the marriage but the king did not give his consent. Thinking that the highest dharma (righteousness) is to marry Devyani, inspite of all warnings he escaped from the palace and without a horse took Devyani to the forest and they ran to reach the cave. On one side Devyani’s neighbor lover Rishya followed the couple. On the other side, knowing that Chandrasena had escaped, the soldiers of the palace searched to capture him. Angry Rishya riding on his horse shot four poisoned arrows continuously at the back of unarmed Chandrasena leaving the prince almost dead and leaving the scene immediately. Crying Devyani somehow dragged severely wounded Chandrasena to the secret cave and kept him there until the soldiers returned without finding a trace. Her heart pounding fast she took the prince to the nearby river for the treatment of the life-threatening wound by a doctor who lived in a village on the other side of the river.
Devyani put Chandrasena on to an empty boat and started rowing towards the other side of the river. Chandrasena became unconscious and slept in the boat while Devyani rowed. When the soldiers found a few gold artifacts and blood of the prince in the forest they anticipated that someone might have assassinated the prince. Searching intensively they reached the bank of the river to see Devyani rowing a boat midway through the river. The commander-in-chief of the soldiers shouted to Devyani to return back that instant. As she was in a total shock and anxious to save her loved one’s life she could not pay attention to anything else and hence she kept on rowing. Thinking that Devyani was escaping because she assassinated the prince, the commander-in-chief of the army ordered the hundreds of soldiers to shoot arrows with fire. The hundreds of arrows flew high and descended upon Devyani and Chandrasena burning them and their boat to ashes and thus ending the eternal love saga of Devyani and Chandrasena.